It’s been nothing but positive vibes for the Utah Jazz this offseason – other than the hand injury to Gordon Hayward – and this team is finally in a good position to make the playoffs after missing out on the postseason by just a game in 2015-16. My best comparison of this team is to the Boston Celtics. They are a well-rounded club that doesn’t have any major superstars but is one of the best up-and-coming – and defensive – teams in the Western Conference.
They acquired George Hill and Joe Johnson in the offseason and will (fingers crossed) finally get a full season of a now-healthy Dante Exum. If the creeping age of Johnson and Boris Diaw doesn’t come to a head this year, the Jazz could make things interesting and easily qualify for the playoffs.
How far they make it in the postseason is another question entirely. There is very little playoff experience in Utah’s starting five and they may find themselves in tough the very first round if they face a team like the Spurs or Clippers.
Once Gordo gets healthy and we see what kind of offensive chemistry this well-built, defense-first team develops on the court, the Jazz could be one of the most viewed League Pass teams in the Association.
Here are some of their betting odds for the upcoming season:
NBA Championship +10000
Do you believe in miracles? Jazz fans who think this team is making its third-ever run to the Finals this year will be singing the blues come May. This is a solid team that has a long way to go before it’s on a level playing field with teams like the Warriors, Spurs and Cavaliers. Let’s see how this season goes and we'll circle back this time next year.
Northwest Division +260
This could be my favorite bet on the NBA futures board. I know the Jazz disappointed after being so hyped in each of the last two seasons, but this year feels different. They now have a veteran point guard who can lead, a deep bench that can ball and, most importantly, the worst competition they’ve had in the Northwest since they won back-to-back division crowns in ’07 and ’08.
Realistically, the race for this title is probably going to come down to the wire. Russell Westbrook is going to single-handedly keep the Thunder in the picture and Damian Lillard could do the same for the Trail Blazers. Both the T-Wolves and the Nuggets will be slightly better than they were last year but that’s not saying much. I think the Jazz edge out the Thunder by a game or two and take the division title for the eighth time in their franchise’s history.
Season Win Totals OVER/UNDER 49
This is an interesting line for the Jazz. Fifty wins would be the most this franchise has earned since the 2009-10 season, when they won 53 – the second-most during the Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Paul Millsap era. This is the best team the Jazz have assembled since the changing of the guard in Utah and if they do indeed win the division, 50 wins should an easy feat to achieve. No team since the ’06 Nuggets has won the Northwest without winning more than 50 games.
Rudy Gobert To Lead NBA in Rebounds +1000
This French seven-footer is a force at the defensive end and is a rebounding machine. He tied Pau Gasol for sixth in the NBA in rebounds per game with an even 11 last year and was actually third in the league in offensive rebounds per game. Although it’s going to be tough to dethrone Andre Drummond from his glass-cleaning throne, I think Gobert has a decent shot. Go-Bert, as I affectionately call him, has improved his rebounding numbers every year he’s been in the league and is now entering his prime.
Gobert is the No. 1 guy in the five spot for Utah and should see a bump in his minutes this year. Playing in the middle of what will probably be a top-three defense can only be a good thing for Gobert’s rebound numbers. Better-defensed shots lead to a lower opponents’ shooting percentage which in turn will lead to more rebounds for the Jazz center to gobble up.
Once defensive player of the year props come out, I may be taking out a loan to put on Gobert – no matter what the odds.
Odds as of October 22 at [custom:bodog-link]
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Odds Shark Staff Mon, May 23, 9:21am